By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
Of the many cruelties and injustices throughout history and yet to be resolved, few can be greater than the Nakba – the catastrophe – visited on the Palestinian people at the time the state of Israel came into existence.
This displacement, this loss of habitat and roots, this barely concealed ethnic cleansing, was addressed over the past weekend in Garden Grove, Ca.
The sixth annual AL AWDA (the Right of Return) convention was well attended and took place over three days, beginning with Friday night registration and a “meet and greet” period.
A poem, a motion picture, welcoming speeches of solidarity and an oral history reading were but a few of the events that greeted attendees.
The Convention was titled: “Palestine: 60 years of Forced Exile. Time for Return”.
The day long Saturday programs included activist workshops. Culture and Resistance, Youth Organizing for the Return, and Prisoner Campaign were but some of the topics addressed.
The sold out dinner later Saturday evening featured Bishop Atallah Hanna from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchcate of Jerusalem and Supreme Justice Dr. Sheikh Taiseer Al Tamimi.
On the last day of the convention, following an interactive panel discussion, a march and rally was held on the main street of Anaheim.
At the rally participants chanted “Bush, Olmert, You should Learn; the Refugees will Return” and “From Fallujah to Jenin, Stop the War Machine.”
Signs demanding an end to the occupation of Iraq and freedom for Palestine were held aloft by marchers.
Passersby often joined the group and if they did not, they indicated their solidarity.
Cars waving Palestinian flags honked their approval as they drove down the street.
“What a successful convention”, said one woman holding a “Time to Return” sign aloft. “It made Return seem real”.
“This was one of the best conventions I have ever attended” claimed one young man. “I have never felt such solidarity.”
Music, exhibits of Palestinian embroidery, and exhibits from Palestinian Refugee Camps were among the displays open to attendees during the three day convention.
For further information on the Convention or on continuing the activities of Al AWDA, please access the group at their web site: _www.al-awda.org_ (http://www.al-awda.org) .